I have a few spoiler-free comments. I’ll warn you before I actually get to the spoilers.
The book came at quarter to seven last night and I read about 210 pages before I went to bed. I started on the rest a little after two this afternoon, whilst keeping Scooter company, and just finished the remaining 550 pages about half-past six. Wanting to avoid spoilers myself, I have indeed stayed offline most of the day Saturday until after completion time to avoid them. Too many people take perverse joy in ruining a book for no good reason.
The book is well written and if you go back and quickly read the first few pages of Potter#1 and compare them to Potter#7 you’ll see how much Jo Rowling has grown as an author. She writes better and that comes with practice — pages of it and she has those in spades. The characters continue to grow, believably so even as the final conclusion marches inexorably closer.
The book is darker — much like Order of the Phoenix in that respect. There is some kissing in it, just a little more adult than the previous book. There is a little bit more swearing in it, too. Nothing major but just a little more. You know the characters are moving towards adulthood. They even drink a bit. Again, subtle changes but there.
We see who is made of what. And that is revealing. We also see that evil characters don’t die and good ones do. That isn’t a spoiler, but a generalization. It’s just like real life — and real life isn’t always fair and there aren’t always happy endings.
Now, on to what would be considered spoilers. HERE BE SPOILERS — TURN BACK NOW.
First, and foremost, there are many deaths on both sides of the battle and not always whom you would expect. The first “shock” was the death of Hedwig, and I really felt no emotion at all. Harry seemed to get over it pretty quickly. I was a bit surprised there, but I guess Ms. Rowling wanted us to know nobody and nothing was safe. From there the bodies piled up: some with good reason and some utterly senseless.
We see the return of the evil Rita and of course Umbridge as well. But Rowling gets distracted, and we never get closure on them or many of the other characters. Love them or hate them you wonder what their final disposition is. I also see where it would be easy to get bogged down and never make it to the end, so I’m not criticizing but observing.
Snape. Yes, the evil Snape. He is a bad person, make no mistake. However, nobody is all bad — or at least they didn’t start that way. Snape was Dumbledore’s man and Voldemort’s man at the same time. I’m not sure how I felt about being cheated on having him turn out that way.
Make no mistake. Harry wins out in the end as everyone knew he must. I never entertained the idea she’d kill Harry. Though it was either Harry or Hagrid who got the “reprieve” Rowling kept mentioning. They both appeared to die, and they both survived, and we may never know who was destined for eternal death.
That Harry was a horcrux himself after a fashion should come as no surprise to anyone who was paying attention. That Neville turned out to be terribly important and play a key role should also come as no surprise. And if anyone wondered if Ron and Hermione end up together, well what does one expect to happen with a teen love?
I was certain we’d see the return of Dumbledore and I said as much. He returned, but not in the way I expected. He was too big of a character and too intertwined with the story to be left out of the ending. He also is proven to be less than perfect and considerably more human. This is a major point for moving Harry towards the final battle. Sirius, James, Lily, and the rest stayed dead as expected.
Draco was an enigma to the end. He had the chance early on to positively identify Harry. It was clear he knew it was Harry. There is no doubt, yet he hesitated and said he wasn’t sure. He even did this for Ron and Hermione before positively identifying them. Harry returned the favour by saving Draco’s life twice in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Everything was fine. And then Rowling wrote the Epilogue. If you just get a razor blade and remove those pages from your book you will be much better off. Well written and utterly unnecessary, trite, contrived, and displeasing. I do not wish the future spelled out for me, and would have much rather had it all left to the imagination. To me it was clearly written well after she finished the main part of the book.
Here are my predictions from the previous post tagged as whether I got them right or not.
- We will hear from Dumbledore in some form (see previous post) RIGHT
- Hagrid will die. He’s the big death, I suspect. WRONG
- Ron and Hermione will be a couple RIGHT
- Neville is probably the final horcrux even though every seems to think it’s Harry himself. I disagree as you can be your own horcrux — that would be contrived, and I don’t think Rowling would do it. WRONG
- Hermione will not die because I believe this is Rowling’s representation of herself in the book RIGHT
- I am undecided if Harry bites the big, fat, furry one. N/A
- I believe at least one member of the Weasley clan will die. RIGHT
- I believe we will get a huge moment out of Draco Malfoy. I do believe Ms. Rowling believes in the fact almost anyone can redeem oneself, and I think Malfoy, git that he is, will surprise us in the end. 50/50
- Rowling doesn’t lightly pick her book titles, so the Deathly Hallows is itself a clue. A “Hallow” is something that has been made holy, sanctified, and/or consecrated. This will tie back to his parents’ death somehow. It may also refer to Gordric’s Hollow where it all started, so to speak. (For instance, Rowling herself assists with translating the titles and the Swedish title is Relics of Death.) Again, this indicates that there is a specific set of items/relics/etc. RIGHT
- Harry must kill Voldemort. Dumbledore clearly says so. Harry says, “I’ve got to try and kill him, or -” and he replies “Got to? Of course, you’ve got to!” RIGHT